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2014 Birthday Road Trip Photos #3: Stalking the Great Orange Cat

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For the last few years, my wife and I have spent our respective birthdays together finding some new place or attraction to visit as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on this most frabjous day, partly to explore areas of Indiana we’ve never experienced before. My 2014 birthday destination of choice: the town of Muncie, some 75 miles northeast of here.

Sure, many people would spend their birthday drinking, partying, and making the day wild and regrettable. We have our own agenda. Finding creative ways to spend quality time together. Embarking on road trips that wouldn’t occur to our peers. Searching for gems in unusual places — sometimes geek-related, sometimes peculiar, sometimes normal yet above average.

We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.

Part One was a general “hey, wow, still got a pulse!” birthday entry. Part Two was a salute to artwork around Muncie. Part Three covers the results of our primary objective, the twisted plan we knew no one would approve. It was a quest we’re sure many have tried, but few have confessed to attempting.

As it so happens, Muncie was once the town of residence for Garfield creator Jim Davis and his company, Paws, Inc. (Both now officially reside in Albany.) In honor of that intellectual property’s 25th anniversary in 2003 and its impressive long-term survival against all internet snark, dozens of Garfield statues stand in his honor all over Grant County and in Muncie. We weren’t prepared for a tour of neighboring Grant County, but Muncie boasts eleven of the known Garfield statues. We wanted to see how many we could track down. Because they were there.

We stumbled across our first one while visiting Minnetrista, inside their Orchard Gift Shop. Each statue has a name; this one’s “The Spirit of Minnetrista”. Coincidence, I’m sure.

The Spirit of Minnetrista!

Statue #2 was inside Jack’s Cameras, whose helpful sales rep gave us clues for tracking down some of the other Garfields. In return for this favor, please go buy many cameras from him. Much obliged.

Oh, and this one’s called “Feline Exposed”. You can write your own joke for that.

Feline Exposed!

Statues #3 and #4 were deep inside the Cornerstone Center for the Arts, the former Masonic temple I mentioned in Part Two. We had to navigate its labyrinthine structure to locate the receptionist on duty, who was kindly enough to lead us upstairs to each specially themed specimen.

#3: “Paw Gliacci”. Some might look at the name and think opera, despite how they didn’t bother reproducing much of his costume beyond the color white. I see the name and I can’t help being reminded of the Comedian’s breakdown from Watchmen.

Paw Gliacci!

Statue #4: “Yo Yo Paw”. Yes, I know the cat puns aren’t getting any better. Let’s be honest: does any series of puns ever get better as they go? Stop judging poor Garfield according to your unrealistic expectations of cat puns, and instead spread some blame to other heinous perpetrators such as Heathcliff, Catwoman, or nearly every speaking cat in Disney history.

Yo Yo Paw. UGH.

Statue #5 was in the window of the local Red Cross chapter. They were closed on Saturday, so shooting through the window was the best we could do. My wife took this photo and, despite my moving farther away at her request, still captured my reflection in the glass. So now she owes me my soul back.

Its official name is “The Angel of the Battlefield”, which should be innocuous enough to placate the pun haters out there for a moment.

"The Angel of the Battlefield".

(And while I’m thinking about it: for Garfield haters in general, if you think it’s the worst strip out there just because the internet said so, you really ought to pick up a hard-copy newspaper sometime and see how some of his obsolete competition are creaking and groaning. The current Paws Inc. team does an admirable job of finding different topics to mine besides Mondays and lasagna. It’s no Pearls Before Swine, but it’s still in the upper tier in its medium.)

Minor issue with our quest: nowhere in our pre-planning process did we find any indication that all the Garfield statues are located inside their respective businesses. Perhaps it was our fault for assuming Muncie would take the same approach as Punxsutawney, PA, which boasts a few dozen groundhog statues stationed outside on its city streets.

Nor were we aware that many Muncie businesses are closed on Saturdays. Despite the helpful tips from the guy at Jack’s Cameras, this meant some Garfields were beyond our grasp on account of closures. The Garfield allegedly in Muncie’s City Hall, for one. Due west of downtown, a medical imaging center had a Garfield inside that I could just barely see behind their furniture and walls. Because the sun was behind me and turning all their windows into mirrors, I had to stretch my arm out to one side and shoot this pic awkwardly through my own shadow on the glass just to snag a Bigfoot-level glimpse of his ears and upper eyeballs.

Our reference map says his name is “This Cat Has Nine Lives”, but I couldn’t see what he was wearing. For all I know he may have been dressed like a big bag of Nine Live cat food.

Where's Garfield?

The most annoying offender was the Muncie Visitors Bureau, which has a Garfield but moved at some point without relabeling their location on their own Garfield statue reference map. That would’ve been good to know before we walked several blocks out of our way to where their map said they still were. Not cool, tourism guys.

We also walked around the Horizon Convention Center in vain for one that’s in there somewhere. Curiously, they had no events scheduled, but their doors were unlocked and no one stopped us from wandering around their big empty place alone for a good fifteen or twenty minutes. We appreciated the free restrooms, drinking fountain, and complete lack of trespassing accusations.

A couple more were listed on the outskirts of town, but by late afternoon we were tired and needed to tend to our dog at home. Besides, we had no reassurance that those Garfields would be any less locked up than the others who denied us.

Thus ended our quest with a mere five complete Garfields acquired, plus one set of blurry Garfield ears. We were awarded no bonus points and didn’t unlock the Tourist Equipment Upgrade that would’ve made our next road trip so much simpler. Better luck next time, I guess, should we choose to play again.

To be continued!

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4 responses

  1. “We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.”—-> that’s really, really sweet.

    This is cool though, I’m into the same sort of thing. But it’s because I did all that stupid, wild & regrettable stuff already & learned years ago how really stupid it is. Anyway, my best friend and I just drove about 6 hours out of town for our birthdays to stay overnight & see The Killers. I had ONE beer, we bought snacks at a grocery store & stayed in our hotel. To me that’s fun. I don’t need to go nuts. For another birthday, we’re born a day apart!, we want to go to this small town in Wisconsin for a couple days that’s got tons of troll stuff like statues and troll theme everything. I get the interesting & weird stuff…I’d be down with Garfield.
    It’s nice to read about you & your wife spending real quality time because you want to.

    I remember Muncie because they’ve mentioned it a few times on Parks and Recreation!

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    • Sorry for the ridiculously late reply. I did see your entry about the Killers (and belated Happy Birthday, BTW! Funny how close our days are) and loved your photos. They made me want to save up for a new camera, and then go to more concerts if the groups I like would ever play here. (Barenaked Ladies are coming in August to do a free show. I’m not a lifelong fan, but that’s really tempting.) But yeah, I think many people put so much stock in vacations being these big, lavish expeditions to faraway beaches and tourist traps that they don’t think about all the wildly fascinating options they probably have much closer to home. Just because we can’t afford to see Australia doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see out there beyond our four walls.

      The “We’re the Goldens” intro that I used on those last two Muncie entries popped into my head a few days ago as an experiment in creating our own sort of opening-credits narration. It’s kind of a work in progress, but I’m glad it sounds okay to someone besides me!

      And as an Indy resident, it’s always fun for us when Parks and Rec name-checks real-life local things, though some of their references are pulled so randomly from around the state that, six years into the show, I’m still not sure if Pawnee is north or south of Indianapolis…

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      • The show is free, go for it!
        I just got my camera in December and already want to upgrade, I neeeeed moooore, going to save up as well. Thanks for the birthday wishes & yeah photography at shows is fun and sometimes I think I took some cool photos until I see professional photos and then I’m bummed out.

        Another reason I’ve come to really enjoy your blog, you’ve got so much travel information about our country. It’s entertaining on one hand but it actually is educational too & it’s very inspiring. It makes me want to travel the US more and my own backyard in NY state. I wonder what I’m missing out on while I’m saving up to go to Europe or something like that.

        “We’re the Goldens” is the perfect.

        Sort of similar, but not really, actually, super lame but here I go: On The Office sometimes the food props are Wegmans brand which is a local Western New York grocery chain, so we like seeing Wegmans cereal in the breakroom on that show. Sounds silly but I get a little kick out of it even though Wegmans probably just paid them to use their brand as they expand South or something.

        Like

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